Ok, 8 days in Tahiti, internet access the entire time and I couldn’t be bothered to get a post off. Yeah that’s right I’m a slacker. Trevor and Alex have joined me and we’re over in Moorea where I’ve been able to poach free wi-fi for the first time since leaving Mexico.
I don’t know if it’s Papeete in particular or just cities in general after spending three months in some of the most isolated islands in the world I was completely overwhelmed by the traffic and bustle. The anchorage was crowded with well over 100 other boats and with squalls coming through and all of us anchored in over 50 feet of water, I wasn’t comfortable at all. We spent the night out in the anchorage and then went into town the early the next morning. When you come into French Polynesia, you can do a provisional check in in the Marquesas or in the Tuamotus, but you can’t actually clear in or out of the country anywhere but Papeete. So Bonnie, Greg and I dinghyed into the marina and took le Truck into Papeete to go and officially check into the country. The buses here remind me a bit of the Jeepnies in the Phillipines and are certainly the most economical way to travel though a ride to town is still almost $2 and close to $3 after dark. So we get downtown and find customs right on the waterfront and take care of the surprisingly easy formalities. After frustrating officialdom of the different Central American countries, Greg and Bonnie we astounded by the friendly accommodating nature of both customs/jasonrose.comimmigration and the port captain. To top it all off, we walk away from customs and Greg and my olfactory synapses start working overtime as we instantly hone in on the sweet smell of hops wafting across the street. That’s right Papeete even has it’s only micro-brewery. So at 9:30 in the morning with the rest of the patrons drinking coffee, we went across the street and treated ourselves to some $12 .5l glasses of Amber Ale. The first hoppy beers any of us had drunk in over 6 months. It’s a rough lot we’ve got here in paradise.
The rest of the week in Papeete fell into a pretty standard routine. We’d wake in the morning and go into town to shop and take care of chores, then we’d be back to the dinghy bar in the marina for their 5-6pm happy hour where beers were 2 for $7, a real bargain in Tahiti. The real memorable standout for our time in Papeete was Matt, Greg and my Friday night busking session in the big square on the waterfront. This square is just big and open during the day and you wonder why they didn’t fill it with benches and landscaping, but at night about 20 of the nicest “Roach Coach” style food trucks pull in frying up steaks, seafood, crepes, pizza and lots of Chinese fare. There’s also a large gazebo at one end where they often have entertainment. Luckily for us, there was no entertainment that night, so we set up shop on the side of the square and played for a couple of hours. There were defintitely a lot of people listening, but for the most part they stayed off in the wings, but we attracted a gaggle of kids to us many of whom obviously didn’t know what to think of us. They did however know what to think of the money in my guitar case and started playing games with all the loose change. I’m not sure if they took any of it, but I did catch a little boy taking a few coins as he innocently grinned at me and put the change back in the case. We ended up making 4550 francs ($60) in a couple of hours of busking. Of course we then went down the alley to where a Tahitian band was playing and spent all that money and more on beer while playing with the local into the early morning.
Towards the end of the week a large swell started rolling in from the southwest breaking on the barrier reef but still made the anchorage very uncomfortable. So Willow and many of my other friends took off while I stayed behind to wait for my brothers, Alex and Trevor to arrive. Their flight came in at 5am. I was worried about getting to the airport on time, but the rolliness in the anchorge had me awake at 2:30 and at the airport by 4:00. Their plane was right on time, but their bags decided they needed a bit longer in LA before making the arduous trip across the Pacific. Thus ensued a day of hitting the brewery, shopping in the central market, more provising at the supermarket near the marina, happy hour at the dinghy bar, dinner at the food trucks and waiting at the airport at 11pm finally getting their luggage 21 hours after I got up that morning. It was a long day, but we got everything we needed and I was ready to get out of the city and back to clean quiet anchorages.
We got the boat stowed, fueled up for the first time since Mexico, filled the water tanks and were underway for Moorea by 10am. It was a cloudy day, and the wind was down as we set out to motor the 12 miles between the two islands. We’d heard on the radio that the wind was blowing hard on Moorea and we were ready for it when the wind picked up a mile out of Tahiti. We were still ready for it when the wind picked up to the point we need to tuck in a double reef and only leave 20% of the jib out. What we weren’t really ready for was the breaking tops of the seas as they dealt with the current between the two islands often looking innocent and breaking over the side of the boat drenching the three of us. We knew that the wind would be accelerating around the island and down the draws and were down to just a double reefed main when we first started getting hit by 40+ knot winds as we neared Moorea. Of course the anchorages in Moorea are also protected by a barrier reef and from a distance the entrance looked to be a sea of breaking waves, but Robyn had just gone through and said that it wasn’t a big deal. Turns out that the entrance wasn’t too big a deal though I had the hammer down and was only making 3 knots against the wind waves driving down Cooks Bay. What was a big deal was the 60+ knot wind gust that hit us as we were anchoring, heeling the boat over to 45 degrees under bare poles and driving us away from the anchorage an towards the reef. With the engine red-lining and the wheel hard over Bodhran still couldn’t do a thing against the wind and I was about ready to drop the hook to keep off the reef when the gust ended and we were able go back and anchor on a killer little drop-off leaving the hook in 25 feet of water while Bodhran was in 10. So with 10-1 scope out and the fact the anchor would have to drag uphill we were in a pretty good position, but I still veered off a second hook at a 60 degree angle to the first to handle the gusts from the other gap on the hill. So with two anchors we quite comfortably rode out the night of continuing 40-50 knot wind gust.
This morning things are back to normal. We got some good snorkeling in on the reef, toured around in the dinghy and tonight will all be meeting up on Fearless for a potluck and music. We’re here with Willow, Veleda, Airel, Fearless and Morning Star. So we’re surrounded by friends during a nice little break in the weather, but the wind is supposed to come back up on Monday and we’ll once again all be hunkered down till it clears up.